The Places We Call Home

There is plenty of literature that dramatises the feeling of belonging nowhere. A sort of literature about the damnation to eternal discomfort if we were to leave the place where we grow up without finding another that lives up to our expectation. I think of the novelist of Indian origin V.S. Naipaul, for instance, who left from Trinidad, where he was born, to London and than to India searching for his identity and a place to call home. He found out, instead, that the England that he had imagined and was thought to be part of wasn’t real, that he had nothing to do with India notwithstanding his descent and Trinidad, meanwhile, had inevitably changed and so had he. 

Personally I don’t believe there is only one place we can call home. I don’t even think home is necessarily a physical place. Finally, I’m definitely convinced that one’s identity is everything but settled. Let’s be clear. In Naipaul’s case I do understand that colonialism and post-colonialism have created complex relations that must be addressed. But if Rihanna from Barbados (to remain in the Caribbean) says she found love in hopeless places, why wouldn’t we all find a piece of this world that makes us smile and safe?

Me, for example, I feel at home at sunset on the balcony of the house where I grew up in Italy. The view has drastically changed. No more vineyard rolling down to the river, but an insignificant villa instead. And yet, when I’m there I cannot help feeling like a child again, happy with the yellow sun on my face. I also feel I belong to Utrecht every time I come back. Even if the sky is grey and it rains – highly possible condition – by the time I reach the Oudegracht my heart gets flooded with a mixture of pride and euphoria.

Now it’s the chance of Sint Maarten and I already feel like my living room is the best home I ever had. The beach of Grand-Case with its boats and peers follows right behind it. My friend Astrid once told me that she found her happy place here on this island. And you? Did you find a piece of the island, or somewhere else, that make you feel like you belong?

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